September 14, 2022

    From Dry to Muddy Mess, a look at the names of Texas wildfires

    What do Iron Knob, Nappin Cowboy, Sleepy Sunday and Flying Monkey have in common? They could be names for latest brands of craft beer but, in fact, they are names of wildfires from the Texas A&M Forest Service’s 2022 fire season.

    Wildfire names may seem random, but most are linked in some way to the location of the fire.

    Unlike with tropical storms and hurricanes, there is no pre-selected list of names. Wildfires get their names from first responders, incident commanders and dispatchers, usually based on the geographic locations or landmarks near the origin of the fire.

    In East Texas, where wildfires are frequent, wildfires don’t get a name unless they are large — more than 100 acres in forest fuels and more than 300 acres in grass fuels. Smaller fires are usually referred to by the county name and an auto-generated number, such as the Cass 2852 Fire that burned 7 acres in Cass County.

    From Dec. 9 to Aug. 29, Texas A&M Forest Service crews responded to 1,725 wildfires burning nearly 600,000 acres.

    Though wildfires aren’t to be taken lightly, some of them have interesting names, including Muddy Mess, Slip and Slide, Hit the Ditch, Circus and Ghost. Other entries on the list are Vacuum, Field of Dreams, Singing Yucca and Hot Cotton.

    There are also a few themes, from large — Big Hippo, Big Joshua, Big L and Big Sniff — to small — Little Buffalo, Little Stasney and Little Thicket.

    As you might expect, there are Texas connections, represented by the Lone Star, Alamo, DPS and Beaver Nugget fires. And just in time for college football season, there’s TAMU, Long Horn and Rice.

    The list shows a love for the cowboy lifestyle, with the aforementioned Nappin Cowboy, Barbwire, Spinning Spurs, Tumbleweed, Horseshoe and Leaning Barn joining Dancing Mule, Angus and Sheep.

    For those with an eye toward the cosmos, there were fires named Apollo, Space X, Little Dipper, Stargazer and Wandering Rocket.

    And there’s a nod to travelers with Cadillac, Rest Stop, Road Sign, Right of Way, Roadside, Speedy, Slowpoke, Shortcut and even Welcome Home.

    For couples, there were the Valentine’s Day, Love and Lucky fires, countered by fires named Lonely, Meanville, Trouble and Loveless.

    Plenty of food made the list, giving you an idea of what firefighters might have on their minds. There was also Bacon, Sausage, Peanut, Cashew, Slim Jim, Fish Fry, Marshmallow, Moonpie and Buttermilk. And don’t forget the Margarita and Lemon Lime.

    Wildlife is well-represented. Ram, Zebra, Buck, Bear, Angry Beaver, Bobcat, Prairie Dog, Wolf and Quail join Locust, Gecko and Hawk on the list.

    Dog lovers should appreciate the Bull Dog, Dalmatian and Bassett Bottoms fires.

    There were a couple of celebrity sightings: Fonzie and Kid Rock made the list, as did Hollywood and Los Angeles.

    No Texas A&M Forest Service list would be complete without a few trees, so Post Oak, Burnt Pine and Rolling Pines fit the bill, as does Christmas.

    While wildfires have slowed down due to the increase in rain across Texas, things can dry out quickly. Remember to always be cautious and aware of the hazards to prevent fires from starting.

    Editors note: Content was updated on April 6, 2023.